The difference between Environmental Management and Industrial Ecology

The difference between Environmental Management and Industrial Ecology is often hard to define as there are many similarities. So what exactly is Environmental Management and what is Industrial Ecology. Professor James Hagan of University of Pennsylvania talked of the differences.

Environmental management is more local risk management on the topic of environment. The focus are often sites specific and the main impacts that he has is on a company’s economy with some social aspects. Overall an environmental management is quite simple as it is the similar to that of a risk management with a default steps of implementation as taught in any business class.

Industrial Ecology on the other hand is a global problem. The focus is on the overall view of a good from not only the perspective of value chain but more of a close loop system. The impacts of industrial ecology is everywhere. Industrial ecology like a normal biological ecology is complex and there is no one plug in solution to the problem. Bottom-line, Industrial Ecology is to look at environmental management from a holistic perspective.

Some people define environmental management as a mitigation of sustainability while industrial ecology is more of an adaptation strategy. Environmental management are often presented in a form of a corporate sustainability report, an award, and a third party verified data. Sustainability is like telling someone to still consume the same amount of orange juice but to consume the juice that comes from oranges that are grown in the optimal way. Industrial ecology on the other hand not only looks at the optimality of growing orange, but also how the orange peels can be dried and sold as candy while the orange container can be composted, how the empty return transport can make profit, and how companies can express sustainability through its practice of industrial ecology.


About t5huang

Masters in Environmental Science at UPenn Candidate
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